Friday, December 8, 2017

Two Interesting SCOTUS Cert Grants

Today the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in several cases, including these two:

United States v. Sanchez-Gomez presents the question: “Whether the court of appeals erred in asserting authority to review respondents’ interlocutory challenge to pretrial physical restraints and in ruling on that challenge notwithstanding its recognition that respondents’ individual claims were moot.”

China Agritech, Inc. v. Resh presents the question: “Whether the American Pipe rule tolls statutes of limitations to permit a previously absent class member to bring a subsequent class action outside the applicable limitations period.”

You can find all the cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at the SCOTUSblog case pages for Sanchez-Gomez and China Agritech.

 

 

 

December 8, 2017 in Class Actions, Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 1, 2017

SCOTUS Cert Grant on Appellate Jurisdiction: Salt River Project v. SolarCity

Today the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement & Power District v. SolarCity Corp. It presents the question: “Whether orders denying state-action immunity to public entities are immediately appealable under the collateral-order doctrine.”

You can find all the cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog.

 

 

 

December 1, 2017 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

SCOTUS Decision in Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services: A Question of Time

Today the Supreme Court issued its decision in Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services, the first merits decision of the new Term. The Court unanimously holds that FRAP 4(a)(5)(C)’s limit on extensions of time to file a notice of appeal is not jurisdictional. (Rule 4(a)(5)(C) provides: “No extension under this Rule 4(a)(5) may exceed 30 days after the prescribed time or 14 days after the date when the order granting the motion is entered, whichever is later.”)

Justice Ginsburg’s opinion begins:

This case presents a question of time, specifically, time to file a notice of appeal from a district court’s judgment. In Bowles v. Russell, 551 U. S. 205, 210–213 (2007), this Court clarified that an appeal filing deadline prescribed by statute will be regarded as “jurisdictional,” meaning that late filing of the appeal notice necessitates dismissal of the appeal. But a time limit prescribed only in a court-made rule, Bowles acknowledged, is not jurisdictional; it is, instead, a mandatory claim-processing rule subject to forfeiture if not properly raised by the appellee. Ibid.; Kontrick v. Ryan, 540 U. S. 443, 456 (2004). Because the Court of Appeals held jurisdictional a time limit specified in a rule, not in a statute, 835 F. 3d 761, 763 (CA7 2016), we vacate that court’s judgment dismissing the appeal.

The Court left open, however, several issues for the lower court to address on remand, including:

(1) whether respondents’ failure to raise any objection in the District Court to the overlong time extension, by itself, effected a forfeiture, see Brief for Petitioner 21–22; (2) whether respondents could gain review of the District Court’s time extension only by filing their own appeal notice, see id., at 23–27; and (3) whether equitable considerations may occasion an exception to Rule 4(a)(5)(C)’s time constraint, see id., at 29–43.

 

 

 

 

November 8, 2017 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Supreme Court’s Post-Prudence Jurisprudence

Now up on the Vanderbilt Law Review’s website is my essay, Lost in Transplantation The Supreme Court’s Post-Prudence Jurisprudence, 70 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc 289 (2017). It’s a response to Fred Smith’s article, Undemocratic Restraint, 70 Vand. L. Rev. 845 (2017).

 

 

October 26, 2017 in Federal Courts, Recent Scholarship, Standing, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

SCOTUS Ruling in Travel Ban Challenge

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court disposed of Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project without addressing the merits. Ruling that “the appeal no longer presents a live case or controversy,” it vacated the Fourth Circuit’s judgment and remanded the case “with instructions to dismiss as moot the challenge to Executive Order No. 13,780” under United States v. Munsingwear.

Here’s the entirety of the Court’s Summary Disposition:

We granted certiorari in this case to resolve a challenge to “the temporary suspension of entry of aliens abroad under Section 2(c) of Executive Order No. 13,780.” Because that provision of the Order “expired by its own terms” on September 24, 2017, the appeal no longer presents a “live case or controversy.” Burke v. Barnes, 479 U. S. 361, 363 (1987). Following our established practice in such cases, the judgment is therefore vacated, and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit with instructions to dismiss as moot the challenge to Executive Order No. 13,780. United States v. Munsingwear, Inc., 340 U. S. 36, 39 (1950). We express no view on the merits.

Justice Sotomayor dissents from the order vacating the judgment below and would dismiss the writ of certiorari as improvidently granted.

 

 

 

October 11, 2017 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

SCOTUS Cert Grant on Appeals in Consolidated Cases: Hall v. Hall

Today the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Hall v. Hall. Here’s the question presented (with the usual wind-up):

The deadline for filing an appeal has “jurisdictional consequences” and “should above all be clear.” Budinich v. Becton Dickinson & Co., 486 U.S. 196, 202 (1988). The deadline is measured from the entry of final judgment. 28 U.S.C. § 1291; Fed. R. App. P. 4. Despite the need for clarity, for at least forty-five years the courts of appeals have disagreed as to when their jurisdiction attaches if cases are consolidated and a final judgment is entered in only one of the cases.

The split and lack of clarity have widened with the passage of time—there are four different circuit rules for determining appellate jurisdiction in consolidated cases. This Court has twice set out to resolve the four-way split. The Court granted certiorari in Erickson v. Maine Central Railroad Co., 498 U.S. 807 (1990); but subsequently dismissed the petition. 498 U.S. 1018 (1990) (mem.). The Court again granted certiorari— and partially addressed the split—in Gelboim v. Bank of Am. Corp.,135 S.Ct. 897 (2015).

Gelboim held that for cases consolidated in multidistrict litigation, a final judgment in a single case triggers the “appeal-clock” for that case. But, by limiting its holding to multidistrict litigation, Gelboim left the split unresolved for cases consolidated in a single district under Fed. R. Civ. P. 42.

The question presented is: Should the clarity Gelboim gave to multidistrict cases be extended to single district consolidated cases, so that the entry of a final judgment in only one case triggers the appeal-clock for that case?

You can find all the cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog.

 

 

September 28, 2017 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Seiner on the Supreme Court, Civil Procedure & Employment Law

Joe Seiner has just published The Supreme Court’s New Workplace (Cambridge University Press 2017). Here’s the description:

The US Supreme Court has systematically eroded the rights of minority workers through subtle changes in procedural law. This accessible book identifies and describes how the Supreme Court's new procedural requirements create legal obstacles for civil-rights litigants, thereby undermining their substantive rights. Seiner takes the next step of providing a framework that practitioners can use to navigate these murky waters, allowing workers a better chance of prevailing with their claims. Seiner clearly illustrates how to effectively use his framework, applying the proposed model to one emerging sector - the on-demand industry. Many minority workers now face pervasive discrimination in an uncertain legal environment. This book will serve as a roadmap for successful workplace litigation and a valuable resource for civil-rights research. It will also spark a debate among scholars, lawyers, and others in the legal community over the use of procedure to alter substantive worker rights.

 

 

 

 

August 29, 2017 in Recent Scholarship, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Final Day of Opinions at SCOTUS: Lots of Civil Procedure & Federal Courts Issues

On the last day of opinions for the October 2016 Term, the Court handed down decisions involving a range of civil procedure and federal courts issues:

  • In California Public Employees’ Retirement System v. ANZ Securities, Inc., the Court held that the American Pipe tolling rule for class actions does not apply to the 3-year statute of repose in § 13 of the 1933 Securities Act.
  • In Davila v. Davis, the Court held that, for purposes of a federal habeas petition, ineffective assistance by the prisoner’s state postconviction counsel cannot excuse a defaulted claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel.
  • In Hernandez v. Mesa, which “involves a tragic cross-border incident in which a United States Border Patrol agent standing on United States soil shot and killed a Mexican national standing on Mexican soil,” the Court remanded the case for the Fifth Circuit to reconsider its rulings on Bivens and qualified immunity.
  • In Trump. v. International Refugee Assistance Project, the Court granted certiorari to review two rulings that enjoined Trump’s executive orders on immigration. Pending review, the Court stayed those injunctions “with respect to foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

 

 

 

June 27, 2017 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

SCOTUS Decision in Ziglar v. Abbasi

Yesterday the Supreme Court issued its decision in Ziglar v. Abbasi, covered earlier here and here. By a 4-2 vote, the Court reversed the Second Circuit and ordered the dismissal of most of the plaintiffs’ claims that they were subjected to discriminatory and punitive treatment during their confinement following the 9/11 attacks. Justice Kennedy wrote the Opinion of the Court, joined (though not in its entirety) by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas and Alito. Justice Breyer wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Ginsburg. Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Gorsuch took no part (Justices Sotomayor and Kagan recused themselves, and Justice Gorsuch was not on the Court at the time of oral argument). Although the cert. petitions presented three issues—Bivens, qualified immunity, and pleading standards—the bulk of the majority’s reasoning and analysis focused on Bivens. 

Here are the concluding paragraphs from Justice Kennedy’s opinion:

If the facts alleged in the complaint are true, then what happened to respondents in the days following September 11 was tragic. Nothing in this opinion should be read to condone the treatment to which they contend they were subjected. The question before the Court, however, is not whether petitioners’ alleged conduct was proper, nor whether it gave decent respect to respondents’ dignity and well-being, nor whether it was in keeping with the idea of the rule of law that must inspire us even in times of crisis.

Instead, the question with respect to the Bivens claims is whether to allow an action for money damages in the absence of congressional authorization. For the reasons given above, the Court answers that question in the negative as to the detention policy claims. As to the prisoner abuse claim, because the briefs have not concentrated on that issue, the Court remands to allow the Court of Appeals to consider the claim in light of the Bivens analysis set forth above.

The question with respect to the §1985(3) claim is whether a reasonable officer in petitioners’ position would have known the alleged conduct was an unlawful conspiracy. For the reasons given above, the Court answers that question, too, in the negative.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed as to all of the claims except the prisoner abuse claim against Warden Hasty. The judgment of the Court of Appeals with respect to that claim is vacated, and that case is remanded for further proceedings.

For more detailed coverage, check out:

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 20, 2017 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Another SCOTUS Decision on Personal Jurisdiction: Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court

Today the Supreme Court issued its decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court, covered earlier here and here. By an 8-1 vote, the Court reverses the California Supreme Court’s conclusion that asserting personal jurisdiction over Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) was constitutional. Justice Alito writes the majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan and Gorsuch. Justice Sotomayor is the lone dissenter.

The case involves a “group of plaintiffs—consisting of 86 California residents and 592 residents from 33 other States”—who sued BMS in California state court alleging injuries arising from BMS’s drug Plavix. The issue was whether personal jurisdiction was proper over the claims by plaintiffs who were not residents of California. The California Supreme Court concluded that although BMS was not subject to general jurisdiction in California, the nonresidents’ claims were covered by specific jurisdiction.

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June 19, 2017 in Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 12, 2017

SCOTUS Decision in Microsoft v. Baker: Appellate Jurisdiction & Class Actions

Today the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Microsoft Corp. v. Baker, a case for which cert was granted nearly a year and a half ago. The plaintiffs in the case had sought certification of a class action, but the district court refused. After failing to receive permission to appeal the class-certification ruling under Rule 23(f), the plaintiffs (in the words of Justice Ginsburg’s majority opinion) “stipulated to a voluntary dismissal of their claims ‘with prejudice,’ but reserved the right to revive their claims should the Court of Appeals reverse the District Court’s certification denial.”

Today’s decision finds that such a stipulated voluntary dismissal did not create appellate jurisdiction, although the Court splits 5-3 on the basis for that conclusion. Joined by Justices Kennedy, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan, Justice Ginsburg writes:

We hold that the voluntary dismissal essayed by respondents does not qualify as a “final decision” within the compass of §1291. The tactic would undermine §1291’s firm finality principle, designed to guard against piecemeal appeals, and subvert the balanced solution Rule 23(f) put in place for immediate review of class-action orders.

A concurring opinion by Justice Thomas (joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito) concludes that there was a “final decision” for purposes of § 1291, because the district court’s order “dismissed all of the plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice and left nothing for the District Court to do but execute the judgment.” Justice Thomas, however, reasons that “the Court of Appeals lacked jurisdiction under Article III of the Constitution,” because “[w]hen the plaintiffs asked the District Court to dismiss their claims, they consented to the judgment against them and disavowed any right to relief from Microsoft.”

Justice Gorsuch—who was not yet on the Court at the time of oral argument—took no part in the case.

 

 

 

 

 

June 12, 2017 in Class Actions, Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

SCOTUS Cert Grant of Interest: Oil States Energy v. Greene's Energy

Today the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Oil States Energy Services LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC, limited to the following question:

Whether inter partes review—an adversarial process used by the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to analyze the validity of existing patents— violates the Constitution by extinguishing private property rights through a non-Article III forum without a jury.

You can find all the cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog.

 

 

 

June 12, 2017 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

SCOTUS Opinion on Standing & Intervention: Town of Chester v. Laroe Estates

Yesterday the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Town of Chester v. Laroe Estates, Inc., covered earlier here and here. Justice Alito’s opinion for the Court decides the case on very narrow grounds—here’s how it begins:

Must a litigant possess Article III standing in order to intervene of right under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2)? The parties do not dispute—and we hold—that such an intervenor must meet the requirements of Article III if the intervenor wishes to pursue relief not requested by a plaintiff. In the present case, it is unclear whether the intervenor seeks different relief, and the Court of Appeals did not resolve this threshold issue. Accordingly, we vacate the judgment and remand for that court to determine whether the intervenor seeks such additional relief.

 

 

 

June 6, 2017 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Standing, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 2, 2017

Interesting SCOTUS Cert Petition: Nease v. Ford Motor Co.

Nease v. Ford Motor Co., distributed for next week’s Supreme Court conference, presents some interesting questions regarding the procedure surrounding Daubert motions:

1) When a district court grants or denies a motion in limine concerning expert testimony, need it state only its ultimate ruling on admissibility (as permitted in the First and Second Circuits), or must it also set forth explicit findings of fact regarding each aspect of the expert testimony rules cited in the motion (as required by most other circuits, including the Fourth Circuit below)?

2) When a federal appellate court concludes that a district court erred procedurally by admitting or excluding expert testimony in a jury trial without explicit Daubert factfinding, is the appropriate remedy for such procedural error: (a) a remand so that the omitted findings can be made by the district court (the rule applied in at least two circuits); (b) a remand for a mandatory new trial (the rule applied in the Ninth and Tenth Circuits); or (c) de novo decision of the admissibility issue on appeal (the rule applied by the Fourth Circuit below and by the Seventh Circuit)?

Here is the full cert. petition:

Download 2017-05-02-Nease-v-Ford-cert-petition

And here is the Fourth Circuit’s decision below.

 

 

June 2, 2017 in Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

SCOTUS Decision on Personal Jurisdiction: BNSF Railway v. Tyrrell

Today the Supreme Court issued its decision in BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell, which was argued just over a month ago (and covered earlier here and here). Justice Ginsburg writes the majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Breyer, Alito, Kagan and Gorsuch. (In fact, this is the first merits opinion in which Justice Gorsuch participated.) Justice Sotomayor concurs in part and dissents in part.

The Court addresses two issues: one statutory and one constitutional. The first is the effect of § 56 of the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), which provides:

“Under this chapter an action may be brought in a district court of the United States, in the district of the residence of the defendant, or in which the cause of action arose, or in which the defendant shall be doing business at the time of commencing such action. The jurisdiction of the courts of the United States under this chapter shall be concurrent with that of the courts of the several States.”

The Montana Supreme Court reasoned that these two sentences combined to authorize personal jurisdiction in any state where the defendant was “doing business.” The Supreme Court unanimously rejects this theory. Justice Ginsburg writes that § 56 “does not address personal jurisdiction.” The first sentence “is a venue prescription governing proper locations for FELA suits filed in federal court.” And the second sentence “simply clarifies that the federal courts do not have exclusive subject-matter jurisdiction over FELA suits; state courts can hear them, too.” As to this part of the majority opinion, Justice Sotomayor concurs.

Had this first issue come out the other way, the constitutional analysis might have been more friendly toward allowing personal jurisdiction—although there are some interesting wrinkles on that point that the Court, having rejected the plaintiff’s statutory argument, did not need to address. Without federal statutory authorization, the constitutionality of jurisdiction hinges on the more commonplace inquiry into whether jurisdiction over BNSF would comport with the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. And on this issue, the case follows in the line of the Court’s Goodyear (2011) and Daimler (2014) decisions (which Justice Ginsburg also authored), with a similar end result: due process forbids personal jurisdiction.

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May 30, 2017 in Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Big Civil Procedure Day at SCOTUS

Today the Supreme Court issued unanimous decisions in two cases we’ve been covering:

 

 

 

May 22, 2017 in Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Another SCOTUS Arbitration Decision: Kindred Nursing Centers v. Clark

This week the Supreme Court issued its decision in Kindred Nursing Centers Limited Partnership v. Clark, a case we covered earlier here. The vote was 7-1, with Justice Kagan writing the majority opinion, Justice Thomas dissenting based on his view that the Federal Arbitration Act does not apply to proceedings in state court, and Justice Gorsuch (who joined the Court after oral argument occurred) taking no part.

Justice Kagan’s opinion begins:

The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA or Act) requires courts to place arbitration agreements “on equal footing with all other contracts.” DIRECTV, Inc. v. Imburgia, 577 U. S. __, __ (2015) (slip op., at 6) (quoting Buckeye Check Cashing, Inc. v. Cardegna, 546 U. S. 440, 443 (2006)); see 9 U. S. C. §2. In the decision below, the Kentucky Supreme Court declined to give effect to two arbitration agreements executed by individuals holding “powers of attorney”—that is, authorizations to act on behalf of others. According to the court, a general grant of power (even if seemingly comprehensive) does not permit a legal representative to enter into an arbitration agreement for someone else; to form such a contract, the representative must possess specific authority to “waive his principal’s fundamental constitutional rights to access the courts [and] to trial by jury.” Extendicare Homes, Inc. v. Whisman, 478 S. W. 3d 306, 327 (2015). Because that rule singles out arbitration agreements for disfavored treatment, we hold that it violates the FAA.

 

 

 

 

 

May 18, 2017 in Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

SCOTUS Decision on the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act

Yesterday the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela v. Helmerich & Payne Int’l Drilling Co., covered earlier here. The case involves the expropriation exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), which provides that foreign states are not immune from jurisdiction in U.S. courts when, among other things, “rights in property taken in violation of international law are in issue.”

Justice Breyer’s opinion concludes that it is not sufficient to “make a ‘nonfrivolous’ argument that the case falls within the scope of the exception.”

Rather, state and federal courts can maintain jurisdiction to hear the merits of a case only if they find that the property in which the party claims to hold rights was indeed “property taken in violation of international law.” Put differently, the relevant factual allegations must make out a legally valid claim that a certain kind of right is at issue (property rights) and that the relevant property was taken in a certain way (in violation of international law). A good argument to that effect is not sufficient. But a court normally need not resolve, as a jurisdictional matter, disputes about whether a party actually held rights in that property; those questions remain for the merits phase of the litigation.

Moreover, where jurisdictional questions turn upon further factual development, the trial judge may take evidence and resolve relevant factual disputes. But, consistent with foreign sovereign immunity’s basic objective, namely, to free a foreign sovereign from suit, the court should normally resolve those factual disputes and reach a decision about immunity as near to the outset of the case as is reasonably possible. See Verlinden B. V. v. Central Bank of Nigeria, 461 U. S. 480, 493–494 (1983).

Part III of the opinion contrasts the FSIA with 28 U.S.C. § 1331, finding that Bell v. Hood’s approach to the existence of a federal question does not apply to the FSIA’s expropriation exception.

Justice Gorsuch took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Download Venezuela v. Helmerich & Payne

 

 

 

 

May 2, 2017 in Federal Courts, International/Comparative Law, Recent Decisions, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 1, 2017

SCOTUS Cert Grant in Patchak v. Zinke

Today the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Patchak v. Zinke, which will address the separation-of-powers principles stemming from United States v. Klein. The grant is limited to the first question presented:

Does a statute directing the federal courts to “promptly dismiss” a pending lawsuit following substantive determinations by the courts (including this Court’s determination that the “suit may proceed”)—without amending underlying substantive or procedural laws—violate the Constitution’s separation of powers principles?

You can find all the cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog.

 

 

 

 

May 1, 2017 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

SCOTUS Oral Arguments on Personal Jurisdiction

Today the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases on personal jurisdiction. Transcripts below:

 

 

 

 

April 25, 2017 in Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)